The 10 Best Gibson SG Guitars for Every Budget

The Gibson SG is the most legendary solid-body guitar. With notable ease of play thanks to its neck, a more than an efficient system of pickups and internal electronics, this is a range of guitars that has largely proven itself.

Played by Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, Mark Knopfler, Frank Zappa, Mike Oldfield, and even Jimi Hendrix, the SGs have little competition to overshadow them.

You might think that such a guitar cannot be found in everyone’s hands, as you will see in this article it is not so!

So how do you choose the right Gibson SG , sort out the best models and find the one that suits you best?

The Top 10 Best Gibson SGs

1. Simple and effective: The Gibson SG Standard HC

Gibson-SG-Standard-HC

Offering extreme playing comfort and legendary sound, the Gibson SG Standard HC has plenty to seduce you.

Its body and neck are mahogany, its rosewood fingerboard and its color is a beautiful Heritage Cherry red.

Along with its quality aesthetic comes a rich, precise tone picked up by its 490R humbuckers at the neck and 490 T at the bridge.

The electronics present on this model also allow dual tone and volume settings for more precision in the bass and treble.

In terms of mechanics, this Gibson will allow you precise control of the tuning thanks to its Grover tuners.

The characteristic neck of the Gibson SG and its 22 frets are obviously present, providing playing comfort and simplicity in technical passages.

Its simple aesthetics with its mother-of-pearl inlays, its dominant aluminum for the mechanics make it an elegant instrument without unnecessary frills and flashy.

Advantages :

  • A high quality violin
  • A round and warm sound perfect for blues crunch, hard rock
  • A low weight
  • Stable tuning thanks to precision tuners
  • Surprisingly easy access to treble

Disadvantages:

  • The rather thick neck may displease some players
  • The sound of the bridge pickup is a little louder than that of the neck pickup
  • Not suitable for crystalline or too clear sounds

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2. A very good variant: The Gibson SG ’61 Standard VC

Gibson-SG-61-Standard-VC

Very close in look to the Standard HC, the SG ’61 Standard VC has some defining characteristics that make it a very different instrument from the latter.

We find the mahogany neck and body, the rosewood fingerboard encrusted with mother-of-pearl. The color is also Heritage Cherry.

The size difference is going to be in the electronics. If we find the four controls for volume and tone, the pickups are not the same.

At the neck, a Burstbucker 61R pickup and at the bridge a 61T. These two pickups give this guitar a perfectly vintage sound , round and warm, perfect for jazz, blues, rock.

Its Vintage Deluxe machine heads are also perfect for maintaining the chord and its Slim Taper neck will better convince fans of thin necks.

Advantages :

  • A very pleasant vintage characteristic sound
  • Clean construction in quality materials
  • A perfect light guitar to avoid back problems
  • Very precise and reliable electronics
  • Excellent value for money

Disadvantages:

  • A guitar that is confined to certain styles only: Blues, Bluesrock, Soul, Mosh, Thrash…
  • The G string may tend to go out of tune more quickly
  • Its lightness and finesse can make it lack power

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2. Perfect for beginners to advanced: the Gibson SG Junior VC

Gibson-SG-Junior-VC

More minimalist in appearance than our two previous competitors, the SG Junior VC has something to please.

In terms of construction, it does not change. The neck and body are mahogany, the rosewood fingerboard. The marks on the handle are however reduced to dots but remain quite functional.

The SG Junior VC is distinguished by its unique pickup, a Dog Ear P90 , whose characteristics allow it great versatility in playing styles.

It only has one volume and one tone control, but these settings still allow it very good precision in the color of the tone.

A very good guitar which, by its lightness and its Slim Taper neck, will also be suitable for many profiles of guitarists.

Advantages :

  • very versatile guitar
  • Always high quality construction
  • A great precision of mechanical and electronic adjustments
  • A very pleasant minimalist aesthetic appearance
  • A simplicity that is only apparent and a rich and perfectly adaptable sound

Disadvantages:

  • the finish is sometimes perfectible
  • Its balance is not perfect, the guitar stings a bit in the head
  • A slightly high price for this type of model

4. An interesting variant: The Gibson SG ’61 Standard Maestro VC

Gibson-SG-61-Standard-Maestro-VC

All the qualities of the SG ’61 Standard VC in an improved version, this is the bet of the Gibson SG ’61 Standard Maestro VC .

We find the same construction as its big sister: mahogany neck and body, rosewood fingerboard with mother-of-pearl inlays.

The electronic settings are also two volume and two tone potentiometers, with precise control of each of these parameters.

The pickups are also the same: a 61R Burstbucker at the neck, a 61T at the bridge. The sound characteristics are therefore identical, a pleasant and warm sound, perfect for all types of blues, bluegrass, rock …

But this guitar will still make a good impression in many different styles.

The major difference of this guitar is in the Maestro Vibrola vibrato. The latter is placed between the bridge and neck pickups and allows very easy and precise vibrato control.

A very good guitar therefore, with a very interesting vibrato option.

Advantages :

  • Amazing vintage look and sound
  • A light guitar but with great potential
  • The price remains correct
  • The Maestro Vibrola vibrato is a real advantage that does not denote on this guitar
  • A Slim Taper handle facilitating the technique and suitable for the majority
  • Always precise settings

Disadvantages:

  • A finish that sometimes leaves something to be desired for this price
  • Small micro selector defects may be present, even if not audible live
  • A not very versatile sound confined to a few styles

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5. For pure ’70s sound: the Gibson SG Standard EB

Gibson-SG-Standard-EB

Another Gibson for lovers of retro sound, the SG Standard EB is ideal for lovers of 70s sounds .

The construction is typical of Gibson, again. Mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard and mother-of-pearl inlays for the markers. Its body is a solid color, ebony black.

The 490R Humbucker pickups at the neck and 490T at the bridge, precisely controlled by the dual tone and volume potentiometers, ensure an exceptional sound from this model.

Rock, funk, blues, bluesrock, and even hardrock are yours!

At the mechanical level, Grover systems guarantee a perfect match that lasts over time. No fear of untimely detuning live.

A great guitar for anyone who loves the best of the 70s.

Advantages :

  • A perfect guitar for funk and hardrock sound
  • Perfect in rhythm as much as in lead
  • Excellent value for money
  • A very good general balance
  • The excellent finishes hold up well over the years

Disadvantages:

  • A very good clear sound but sometimes rough in crunch
  • the quality of different guitars of this model seems to vary
  • The handle may seem a little thick

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6. Comfort and speed: the Gibson SG Standard 64 Maestro CH VOS

Gibson-SG-Standard-64-Maestro-CH-VOS

Efficient, this is the best qualifier for the SG Standard 64 Maestro CH VOS .
Despite the traditional Gibson woods, mahogany and rosewood for the fingerboard, this beautiful cherry red guitar stands out from its counterparts.

Its electronic system is characteristic of SGs: two volume controls and two tone controls. But it’s its Custombucker Alnico III pickups that make the difference in sound.

Combined with a Maestro Vibrola tremolo, these unwaxed pickups sound clean and balanced. The spectrum is rich in harmonics, the sustain very good.

This versatile guitar doesn’t specialize in a few styles and is capable of performing in many of them, making it a great asset.

And if the price seems high, compared to all its qualities it is only very fair.

Advantages :

  • Welcome versatility
  • Precise mechanics as much in the agreement as the vibrato
  • The finish is impeccable
  • A very good ease of play
  • Looks and sounds amazing

Disadvantages:

  • A price that can be cold, but the quality is paid for
  • The vibrato can be annoying if you don’t need it
  • A guitar with a lot of personality, to avoid for beginners

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7. A good compromise: the Gibson SG tribute NW

Gibson-SG-tribute-NW

The SG tribute is a simple and effective model that replaces the SG Faded model.
Neither red nor black, this time Gibson dares a very nice walnut dye.

The color changes, and so do the materials. If the body is mahogany and the rosewood fingerboard, the neck is maple. The markers on the handle are dots and are not mother-of-pearl.

The electronics are also fairly standard with four volume and tone potentiometers, 490 R and T pickups for the neck and the bridge.

Vintage Deluxe tuning machines are also present, all ensuring good sound and tuning quality.

sober and balanced guitar that will certainly suit a wide audience not looking for a guitar specializing in specific styles.

Advantages :

  • A simple and versatile guitar suitable for all
  • A reasonable price
  • The guarantee of the sound qualities of a Gibson SG
  • Reliable mechanics and electronics
  • The finish is very good

Disadvantages:

  • slight imbalance of the neck and body
  • A guitar lacking a bit of character if you want a more specialized game
  • An entry-level SG looking a little bland compared to other models

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8. A little vintage nugget: the Gibson SG Standard Reissue Cherry VOS

Gibson-SG-Standard-Reissue-Cherry-VOS

If it is not suitable for all guitarist profiles or all budgets, the SG Standard Reissue Cherry VOS is nonetheless a very interesting guitar.

Mahogany with a one-piece rosewood fingerboard, it has a thinner 60’s profile neck than the standard SGs. The latter is also equipped with a tuss rod installed in the same way as the original SGs for more historical accuracy.

With its two Custombucker pickups, its three-position selector and its volume and tone controls, it has a colorful and rich vintage sound.

Adapted to a wide range of 60’s styles, it can nevertheless be adapted to other musical genres thanks to its versatility.

Light, balanced and facilitating the playing technique, it is a guitar of very good quality and with many possibilities.

Advantages :

  • Very good vintage sound and look
  • The precise mechanics of the SGs
  • great versatility of characters
  • Improves over time
  • Suitable for studio and live

Disadvantages:

  • Occasionally poorly done finishes
  • high price
  • A slightly thick handle

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9. L’alternative contemporaine : la Gibson SG Modern TBF

Gibson-SG-Modern-TBF

If his style resembles other SGs, make no mistake. The SG Modern TBF is different from its counterparts in several aspects.

To its mahogany body and neck, it adds an ebony fingerboard and a maple soundboard. Its black look gives it a certain charisma which is not just an appearance: it has it under the hood.

With its 24 frets instead of the traditional 22, it announces the color at first glance.

Its Burstbucker pickups are suitable for specific techniques. The Pro Rhythm for the rhythm, the Pro lead+ for the lead, which can be separated or combined as desired.

The Grover mechanics, which need no introduction, maintain the tuning for a long time, like all SGs.

In terms of styles, this model is very versatile. The SG Modern TBF will be perfect for all your desires .

Advantages :

  • Very good versatility
  • Playing comfort is excellent
  • The finishes are well done and the instrument is of good quality
  • The factory setting is perfect
  • The 24 frets are a real asset
  • The price is pleasantly surprising for a model of this type

Disadvantages:

  • A heavier body than that of its sisters
  • The sound of the pickups is a little lighter than the 490R or T when played separately
  • The layer of varnish can sometimes be a little too thick

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10. The eye-catching guitar: The Gibson SG ’63 Custom 3 PU Maestro CW

Gibson-SG-63-Custom-3-PU-Maestro-CW

For guitarists who love ornaments galore, this guitar is a must have  !

With its mahogany body and neck, it is adorned with an ebony fingerboard, mother-of-pearl block markers, a so-called “split diamond” headstock inlay and golden hardware visible from afar. Everything is done to recall the aesthetics of the 60s.

This SG is equipped with a set of three Custrombucker pickups and a Maestro vibrato, which give it a round and warm, almost heavy sound. These characteristics make it perfect for blues, bluegrass or rock n’roll.

This is a guitar that lasts very well over time , both in looks and in its musical abilities.

Advantages :

  • A guaranteed return to the 60’s
  • Gibson SG quality at the rendezvous
  • The vibrato is very effective and precise
  • The finishes are very good
  • Gameplay is amazing

Disadvantages:

  • a very ornate model that will not suit everyone
  • Little versatility of possible styles
  • The price is very high

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How to choose your Gibson SG guitar?

how-to-choose-guitar-Gibson-SG

With such a selection of instruments with characteristics very close to each other, the choice seems difficult.

However, there are several criteria to help you make an easy choice:

Your level of play

Beginner or confirmed, you can find guitar to your liking in the Gibson SG.

While most of these models are recommended for instrumentalists who are already sure of their style and technique, certain instruments such as the Junior VC or the Tribute NW , which are more versatile, are undoubtedly best suited for beginners and intermediate levels.

It is by looking for your style with an instrument that can easily do well in all genres that you will be able to refine your level, then possibly orient yourself later on a better instrument.

The style you love

Beyond the level, it’s the sound of the guitar and the styles where it excels that you have to look at above all.

The Gibson SG are jewels adapted to often very specific styles: rather rock or vintage 60’s blues, hard rock or 70’s progressive rock? The SG Reissue or ’61, ’63 and ’64 series will be your allies.

Other models will be more suited to modern styles or even jazz, funk…

The morphology of the guitar

Of course, the shape of the guitar must suit you. The sleeves of Gibson tend to be debated.

Between the Slim Taper, the 50’s rounded, the standard sleeves, there are real differences in thickness which can affect your technical comfort .

Excluding sleeve size, the morphology remains substantially the same, you will only have to be careful with vibrato for those who are not used to it.

The weight of these guitars is out of the box, these instruments being very light in any case.

The price

The SGs are very high quality instruments for the vast majority. The price unfortunately suffers on some models, which can go up to several thousand euros.

The quality of the Gibson SG is at this price, being highly specialized instruments , but the investment is worth the effort.

One of the great advantages remains that the sound and the guarantee of a very good instrument remain regardless of the price you put on it.

F.A.Q.

Gibson-SG-guitar-buying-guide

Are the Gibson SGs suited specifically for the studio or the stage?

The Gibson SG are very versatile guitars. One of the great advantages of these instruments is that they are perfect both live and in the studio , thanks to their very stable tuning and their high quality electronics.

However, be careful when changing microphones using the selector, a slight sound signal may appear during recording. This signal remains completely inaudible during live performances, even with low amplification.

Can you customize your Gibson SG?

You love your SG but find a microphone too weak? It is quite possible to change it. The electronics of the Gibson are accessible from the back, and a change of buttons or microphone is perfectly feasible .

Be careful, however, not to disrupt everything by making hazardous attempts, let your favorite luthier guide your steps or take care of your work if necessary…

What is the use of a guitar with 22 or 24 frets?

The number of frets has at least two interests. The first is to allow you to go further in the treble on each of the strings, and therefore to push your solos to heights of virtuosity…

The second significant interest is to allow you to shrink the size of the boxes, increasing your potential for technical velocity and general accuracy at the same time.

With a minimum of 22 frets on average on SGs, Gibson has guitars perfect for all types of digital techniques.

Can you play unplugged with a Gibson SG?

Technically any guitar can be played unplugged, even a Gibson SG.
Everything will obviously depend on the situation… Being solid body guitars, you obviously won’t be able to play them live or in the studio without amplification .

However, to rehearse at home, the sound is sufficient to rehearse without disturbing the neighborhood, and remains of sufficient quality to fully appreciate the natural sound of your instrument.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=wDwYAKtMig8%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Verdict

Gibson SGs are high quality precision instruments and their reputation is fully justified.

Light, solid, durable and precise, they are the perfect allies for a demanding guitarist as well as for a beginner in search of strong sensations .

All models have a specific interest for a certain style, a certain morphology.

However, if we had to choose the one representing the quintessence of this range of guitars, it would certainly be the classic SG Standard HC .

Possessing all the assets of these guitars, it represents the best showcase of the entire range of these exceptional instruments.

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